Clown Shoes

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American Imperial Stout
Ranked #1,544
Ranked #12,317
4.05 | pDev: 8.89%
Clown Shoes
Massachusetts, United States
Reviews: 13 | Ratings: 29 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of BB1313
3.61/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Canned on 7/29/19. 16oz can poured into a tulip. Pours almost black with a creamy khaki head that falls leaving nice retention and lacing. The aromas have some pumpkin spices, but the spices aren't overpowering. Mild hints of maple. The bourbon basically goes unnoticed in the aroma department. Malts are there. The flavors basically follow the nose for the most part. The bourbon characteristics are mild in the flavor department. More pumpkin spices. Some cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and allspice. Some chocolate. It's not that sweet. Solid malt backbone. Alcohol is well hidden. Mouthfeel is full-bodied with moderate carbonation. It's fluffy, smooth and dangerously drinkable.

This is a solid pumpkin stout, but not the best bourbon barrel-aged beer, in my opinion. The bourbon characteristics are pretty subtle and almost go unnoticed. The aromas and flavors are still enjoyable.

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Photo of SABERG
4.14/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a 16 oz can from this years batch into the test glass
A - Chalkboard dark, hides all evidence of support for the off white frothy cap.
S - Dark chocolate, vanilla notes, pumpkin, a hint of spice, cinnamon, some clove as well. The barrel is forward and quite nice.
T - Follows the nose well, with a wonderful roast grain component that is not in the aromatics, coffee, cocoa, pumpkin, bourbon all play well.
M - A bit thin on the palate, this is the only detraction, sweet start, vegetal, element, is not off putting , nice vanilla touch from the bourbon barrel
O - A very good stout worthy of its reputation, I like the total package quite a bit

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Photo of buschbeer
3.71/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

1 Pint can
Served in a snifter

This beer pours black and is topped with less than an inch of tan head that leaves spotty lacing.

The smell is pumpkin spices and roasted malt. It has an alcohol smell as well. There is some very subtle caramel and vanilla.

The taste is pumpkin spice and alcohol. I am surprised at how boozy this beer tastes. Roasted malt creeps into the finish and lingers.

Medium bodied with a smooth mouthfeel

I'm surprised what a boozy mess this beer is given the good reviews. I don't hate it because I like boozy beers. I definitely though it would be better. Given the value or lack thereof, I will not be revisiting this beer.

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Photo of mynie
4.2/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

16 cans were kind of egregiously priced (9 bucks a can), but they came highly recommend by a salesman I trust (one day that fella's gonna give me a raw deal, and I'll let him have it on the pages of this very website!)

Anyhow, seems like a nice way to say goodbye to fall.

The pour is deep, nearly opaque ruby but surprisingly fizzy for its size. A decent little head sits on top.

Aroma is sharp imperial stout grain--pleasantly zippy and alcoholic along with some nice barely burn--mixed with a firm, but not overwhelming, dose of pumpkin pie spice. It's not nearly as much of a punch in the face as most contemporary, barrel aged stouts, but frankly I'm kind of burned out on those and it's nice to get something a bit more straightforward. The balance works quite well, and it's evocative of autumn in all the right ways.

The flavor is likewise nice, though not quite as firmly composed as the aroma led me to hope. Pie spice up front... and then all throughout. It smoothens the burn of the high-ABV malt, and while it's nice up front by the middle and end I wish there was a bit more stout complexity. At no point is it ever bad--not in the slightest. But it's just not interesting enough to warrant its price tag.

If you can find it marked down once the season ends, or if you're lucky enough to live near Clown Shoes that you can find this on tap (as I used to be), then it's definitely worth picking up. Otherwise, due to its price, I can't really recommend it. It's well made, but not *that* well made.

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Photo of smcolw
3.89/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Deep dark brown where no light passes. The beige head recedes quickly leaving only rim bubbles. Minor streaks for lace.

Deep semisweet chocolate. Light alcohol warmth. Slightly sweet. Touch of mocha.

The start is of darker malts. The alcohol is present throughout but not overwhelming. Lighter body than most in this category but the carbonation is mellow as well. The swallow is light while the finish has a strong presence of cinnamon along with the chocolate flavors.

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Photo of AdmiralOzone
4.23/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours an opaque black with a thick light tan head with good retention and decent lacing. Aroma is pumpkin pie spices and a faint touch of bourbon. Flavor is dark roasted malts, cinnamon and other pumpkin pie spices, chocolate, and bourbon. Well hidden abv. Feel is smooth and creamy. Overall a great beer.

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Photo of TBoneJones
3.95/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pitch black pour, nice clean head. Body appears rich.
Nose is terrific banana cream pie/ pumpkin spice/ hops.
Taste is nutmeg, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, tobacco, and hops. Bourbon barrel bite is sharp and dry, with bitterness...there’s nothing sweet here. Cocoa notes appear after sipping awhile and stopping.
Feel is medium with very low carbonation.
Though not my favorite Halloween-season stout, this one is worth seeking because the aforementioned flavors are distinct. What started to seem complex ended up being decipherable, but right-on for the time of year.

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Photo of JacobusFavier23
4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

L- Pours a wonderful looking almost completely dark stout with a nice lacy thin head. Almost opaque in color.
S- Smells great. Nice earthy pumpkin, sweet dark chocolate, roasted nuts, and toasted malts.
T- Follows the nose. There's a very nice earthy pumpkin flavor throughout, sweet dark chocolate is there, followed by a nice roasted malt finish. Nice bitterness in the finish. Altogether very nice flavor wise.
F- Medium bodied. Very nice.
O- Very, very, very good "halloween" inspired imperial stout. The pumpkin stands out enough in the most natural and respectful way. I appreciate this stout and it gets me in the mood for the halloween season. Enjoyed thoroughly.

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Photo of jzlyo
3.86/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aroma is pumpkins, spices/cinnamon and malts. The flavor is pumpkin, spices/cinnamon/mild cardamom, malts and a mildly acidic/creeping alcoholic finish.

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Photo of jlindros
4.04/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Canned 7/29/19
Pours a tan colored foamy fizzy semi dense 1 finger head, moderate retention, a little lacing, very dark jet black color

Nose light vegetal pumpkin, a bit fruity, some roasted malt and little char, burnt coffee and dark chocolate, mild vanilla and flash of baking spices and pumpkin pie spices, background has a bit of bourbon, more of the pumpkin and spices as it warms

Taste fair sweetness, rich creamy dark malts, cocoa and dark chocolate, big roasted malt and coffee notes, touch of nougat, baking spices and pie spice, magnum bitterness from spicy hops and the roasted malts, light pumpkin, again more vegetal but not too strong, a flash of bourbon if any, and light vanilla, drier finish, lingering spices, toasted pie crust like finish, more of the pumpkin and spices as it warms

Mouth is med to fuller bod, creamy, medium to lighter carb, only a flash of alcohol late

Overall mixed, thankfully the pumpkin and spice is not overpowering but at the same time it's barely there, same with the barrel, more bitterness than anything

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Photo of SawDog505
4.52/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a 16 tulip glass canned on 7/29/19. Pours near pitch black with a 2 finger sticky light brown head that leaves thick waves of lace as it slowly settles. 4.75

Smell is pumpkin, chai, nutmeg, cocoa, vanilla bean, clove, coffee, and some oaked bourbon. 4.5

Taste follows pumpkin, nutmeg, cocoa, vanilla, coffee, chai, and a nice healthy dose of warming bourbon. 4.5

Mouthfeel is pretty big, gentle carbonation, easy drinking for 10% ABV but bigger on flavor than most at this size. 4.5

Overall this is awesome, expensive at $9 a 16 oz can, but really awesome. Warlock from Southern Tier is no longer my favorite Pumpkin Beer. If you see this and you like barrel aged Stouts and Pumpkin brews this is must try. 4.5

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Photo of ichorNet
4.58/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I... think this is my first new dark beer from Clown Shoes since they were acquired by Harpoon. I don't like Harpoon at all, so I'm going to disclose that right away and throw my bias right out there. CS was one of my first craft brewing outfits way back in 2010 or so, and I've been following them ever since. I've been skipping a lot of their stuff over the past few years, however, since a lot of it seems like it's treading similar paths to previous stuff, or just plain-ol' isn't interesting to me. But, a strong pumpkin stout with spices aged in bourbon barrels? I'll buy that for a dollar. Or... 6-7 dollars, I guess, to be more frank.

This pours a nice deep black with very little in the way of light penetration. Topped off with a cola/khaki colored head of dense, whipped foam that retains quite well and leaves behind excellent lace and legs, this really has all the makings of an awesome imperial stout. And, of course, who better to do this than Clown Shoes, whose BBA imperial stout program has long been the envy of most other breweries making dark/strong beer in the Northeastern US for over half a decade now? Yeah, it makes sense this looks great. Next category...

My fear going into this was that the barrel would either overtake the delicate squash-like, earthy pumpkin flavors, or that there just wouldn't be enough oak/spirit presence at all. I'm not sure why I was worried; maybe because these guys don't usually do too many adjunct stouts in barrels (there was that time they did their Pecan Pie Porter in barrels... maybe it was twice they did that, but I digress), but the nagging worry was there. Glad to say this hits the mark pretty spot-on, however, in my opinion. Has a nice warmth to it with some bourbon character along with nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice. Perhaps a little clove and, of course, a helping of ethanol heat to elevate it. Leaving this out to warm a little bit starts giving me the autumnal, squash-like pumpkin note I crave, but it's really not there at first. Reminds me a little bit of Fisherman's Pumpkin Stout by Cape Ann, but obviously more than a few notches more intense. Sweet, spicy, and decadent... Gordo is certainly making a good impression.

On the tongue, this is just superb... oak barrel, char, smoky grains, light earthy squash note, and a dense helping of cinnamon and nutmeg all combine to make a lovely, evolving, and decadent dance occur on the palate. A bit of dark roast espresso and a helping of bitter baker's chocolate seal the deal here... this is a lot to chew on, but I'm thinking I'm up to the task. Warlock is my favorite pumpkin stout, but that's mostly due to its unique and uncanny flavor profile (which it carries over from its brother, Pumking). This one is a lot more chocolatey, though it misses a little of that vanilla/graham/pie crust thing Warlock does so well. However, for a bourbon barrel version, this is really on-the-mark. It's really creamy and rich, with a dense and warm profile that allows it to stand out. For a beer I went into with some amount of trepidation, this is sure impressing me. Not sure why I doubted them, but I should stop that.

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Photo of teromous
3.24/5  rDev -20%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

From the bottom of the can: "pkg 213 07/29/19 09:54"
From the side of the can "1 Pint 10% ALC/VOL"

Appearance: It's a black beer with a large fizzy dark khaki head. The head is very fizzy but it maintains well.

Aroma: There is a candy scent similar to caramel but with a bit of a cola aroma intermixed. There is a bit of what smells like cinnamon but oddly a bit artificial smelling. It has a strong alcohol aroma. The aroma is not bad but it is just strange.

Taste: The beer has a charred flavor up front then it takes on a decent dose of cinnamon and a light bit of chocolate.

Mouthfeel: This beer has a full body that is smooth and rather velvety. It has a very nice texture. There is a bit of heat to the beer and a touch of alcohol burn. The overarching character of the beer is how smooth it is.

Overall: The can calls this an "Imperial Pumpkin Stout Brewed with Spices & Aged in Bourbon Barrels." It does have a bit of a char character which could come from the barrels, and it is very smooth which might also be a product of the barrel aging. As a whole it doesn't taste or smell a lot like a Pumpkin Ale. There is some noticeable cinnamon but it smells a bit funny and tastes rather plain. Compared to other cinnamon infused stouts it is about average. I probably wouldn't buy it again but it is an enjoyable beer. It's worth trying if you like other cinnamon infused stouts but Pumpkin Ale enthusiasts will find it lacking. As a general stout it does very well. As a bourbon barrel stout it is missing a lot of character from the barrel.

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Gordo from Clown Shoes
Beer rating: 91 out of 100 with 29 ratings